lifestylesupportguru

humour for the not so graceful getting older

Awaydays

A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru!
I am writing this whilst sitting in a drinking establishment in Coventry. Why Coventry, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer. It seemed as good a place as any to visit for the night on the way back from Cambridge. Why Cambridge, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer, but I shan’t, because that would be the wrong answer. One male sibling and I went there to visit oldest female sibling and her granddaughter, who are visiting their son and dad respectively while he lolls around Cambridge University inventing things to do with storage of heat and energy – I would explain this more fully, since I understand the process completely, but I don’t have enough time or space and I can assure you, Faithful Followers, that you would have no idea what I am on about, and I’m pretty sure that any explanation will not help you manoeuvre your way through the many miseries this life will throw at you.

The other female sibling in our Happy Family also joined us, making the Great Trek up through the Dreaded Dartford Tunnel (DDT), so we were a jolly band. If only Youngest Sibling had been able to hurry down from Hull (I am in an alliterative mood tonight), we should have been a complete family! The Hull family member said he was too busy sorting papers to make the journey, but I have a feeling this may have been a euphemism for ‘You must be joking! A family reunion! I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.’

We went to a lovely pub/restaurant on the river for lunch and ordered some food which, we were told, would take about 40 minutes because they were very busy. That seemed fine because conversation was taking a long time anyway – one or two of the group are a little hard of hearing, so everything had to be repeated at least twice, and throw in a Northern Ireland accent and you have the makings of an international conference without the benefit of an interpreter. (The food took an hour, by the way, so conversation was beginning to wane and we almost turned to the dreaded Brexit topic, but the triple-cooked chips arrived in the nick of time!)

John Collier (1850–1934)

Painted by John Collier (1850–1934)

I am now communicating with you ‘live’ from the ‘welcoming bar’ (booking.com description) of our Coventry hotel instead of from the Indian restaurant next door where we had hoped to end the evening. The restaurant, advertised as open until 23.59 (we arrived at 21.45), was, we were told, closing in 30 minutes – for good! However, the waiter recommended a five-minute walk to a ‘whole street’ of restaurants. Did I mention that it was pouring with rain?

We decided to cut our losses and finish the evening with a glass of wine and a packet of crisps in the hotel’s ‘welcoming’ bar. The barmaid took a little while to serve us because she needed to finish her cigarette outside first, and when a note was tendered to pay, the change was given in 10p pieces – three pounds’ worth of 10p pieces! Why would a bar have a till full of 10p pieces and not a single £1 coin?
Meanwhile, some of the clientele are seated in the ‘welcoming’ bar area ringing a takeaway restaurant to complain that they haven’t received enough chips with their kebabs. Apparently, ‘only’ 20 chips per kebab aren’t enough. First World problems, eh?

Anyway, that’s Coventry covered (unlike Lady Godiva), so there is no need to return to the place – unless I find that the 10p pieces can only be spent in Coventry!

Sleep well, Beloved Believers – I have a feeling I may not!

Lost in Translation

A very good evening, Beloved Believers! Tonight, I wish to talk about the difficulties of understanding others. Of course, I don’t mean ‘understanding’ in the sense of ‘empathising with’ – as I am the LSG, empathy is something I leave to ordinary mortals, who need to ‘feel your pain’ or ‘walk in your shoes’ (not for me, unless they’re Christian Louboutin’s, daaahlings … And NEVER Crocs!). No, this is about understanding people talking to you, even though you haven’t left these shores for foreign climes.
I have come to terms with understanding Scottish accents – as long as I can catch every third word, I’m fine – I make up the rest. Northern Irish is similar – ‘hyevva’, as pronounced by an NI BBC reporter is, in fact, ‘however’, so I can work from that. North Welsh still defeats me at times, especially since they have different words for the same things – for example, ‘girl’ in North Welsh is ‘hogan’ (both singular and plural), but ‘merch’ (merched, plural) in the South; ‘boy’ is ‘hogyn’ (both singular and plural) or ‘bachgen’ (bechgyn, plural). ‘Now’ is ‘nawr’ (South) and ‘rwan’ (North). How does that work, other than backwards??
Hyevva, the one that defeats me is the Black Country – Debbie, Rob, is there a phrase book that you haven’t told me about? The (male) siblings and I visited the Black Country Living Museum the other day and were flummoxed right from the start, although, agreeably, the initial lack of understanding led to us all being admitted at ‘Concessions’ price (even though only one of us qualified) simply because older sibling didn’t understand what he was being asked and just smiled and said ‘Yes’, while younger sibling and I stood behind him looking old.
We moved on to the main entrance where we were greeted by a gentleman – dressed as a 19th-century pit supervisor (I’m using my imagination here) – who asked us a question which none of us understood, so we said, ‘Pardon?’ and he repeated the question. The LSG, making the most of her linguistic abilities, understood the word ‘rent’, replied ‘Yes’, smiled, showed our tickets and we were allowed in. Thereafter, we made sure we engaged in no further conversation, even avoiding the 19th-century pub in case we were expected to converse and ended up with a pint of gin! (Actually, now I come to think of it …)
The visit was extremely enjoyable, and I would recommend it to all and sundry, but just don’t expect to hold lengthy conversations with anyone (unless they’re ‘proper’ foreign!).

Today’s experience was somewhat different. I decided to go along to the city library, which has moved from the beautiful, old Central Library building to the refurbished Council House – beautiful on the outside, rather clashingly modern on the inside – to borrow a book I didn’t want to buy on Kindle (i.e. too expensive!). The conversation went like this:
Helper: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Yes, it’s my first visit here. Where will I find books by Victoria Hislop?
H: ‘Hislop’. Does that begin with an ‘E’?
Stunned silence on my part.
Me: No, ‘aitch’.
H: Ah, ‘haitch’.
I maintained a dignified silence. The book (The Return) wasn’t in stock. I will have to go through this again next week…

I am dedicating this to CJ Jones, who died suddenly today – she was one of the LSG’s most dedicated supporters and she would have loved this, especially the Welsh bits! Sleep well, CJ.

Lost And Found

Today a mystery was solved, one that has kept me puzzled for weeks, but I am going to see if you can solve the puzzle yourselves by answering a straightforward multiple-choice question (think of it as SATs for older people – you will get SUCH a sense of achievement when you get a score that will allow you to enter the University of Life [don’t you just HATE that phrase??]).
I will set the scene:
A few weeks ago, I bought a rather lovely black(ish) t-shirt (lovely longer length and loose enough to hide lumps and bumps, so many of you will understand – and empathise with – my joy) in readiness for holidays abroad (no one told me I wouldn’t actually need to go abroad to get sun and warmth this year). You may ask why I bought a dark t-shirt for holidays in the sun, but trust me when I say that black(ish) sets off a tan beautifully!
I took it with me to Cyprus and Spain (yes, yes, I know teachers are paid FAR too much and get HUGE pensions, which is why I can afford all these lovely holidays – I’ve heard it all before). It wasn’t cheap (yes, yes, I know teachers are paid far too much etc, etc, but I worked on the premise that it would last me a good length of time).
So, where does the mystery come in, I hear you cry (along with ‘Teachers are paid far too much and get a good pension and too many holidays’).
Well, the t-shirt mysteriously disappeared after I got back from Spain at the end of May. I knew I hadn’t left it in Spain because I’d worn it on the journey home (black is a far more useful colour to wear on a plane when turbulence may cause you to spill your red wine). Where was it? I looked through the pile(s) of ironing (anyone fancy a full-time job?) and checked my wardrobe(s) in case I had put it on a hanger under another item of clothing, but no joy (although I did find several other items I’d forgotten about – yes, yes, I know, teachers get paid too much… and all that stuff).
This was now beginning to occupy my mind a lot of the time (doesn’t take much, to be brutally honest), so imagine my complete surprise when I came out of the shower this morning, went into my room and found the t-shirt lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom of my bed! How could this be? I asked myself. A disappearing t-shirt suddenly reappears at the bottom of the bed? Surely, only Molly the ‘gangster cat’ could do this, in much the same way she will suddenly materialise on the bed in the middle of the night and take over two-thirds of it without you noticing until you try to turn over. (Teachers are paid FAR too much if they can afford to keep a cat…)
So, here is the question:
You lose a rather lovely, plain black(ish) t-shirt and wonder how it can have disappeared without any obvious reason. Is it because:
a) It disappeared into the black hole that also swallows odd socks and new bras which then turn up again for no good reason a few months later?
b) It has been lying at the bottom of the wardrobe after falling off a hanger and the gangster cat has been using it as a bed and you didn’t notice because both she and the t-shirt are black?
c) It has been lying in a pile of ironing (full-time job still available) and sibling picked it up with his own t-shirts, thinking it was one of his?
Answers should be written on a postage stamp (which only teachers can afford) and affixed to a homing pigeon (affordable by everyone) to be sent to the LSG, c/o the Cayman Islands (because I used to be a teacher).

I look forward to your deductions, Adoring Acolytes!

Psychopaths In The Pub

A very good evening to you all on an evening which is still muggy, despite some rain. I am not complaining about the heat because it will be winter soon enough (August-May) and we don’t see enough sun in this country. But that is not the point of my missive this evening – I leave meteorological predictions to those more knowledgeable than I, such as the rather lovely Tomasz Schafernaker on the BBC.

No, a rather more serious situation has arisen within the last half hour, much more serious than my original choice of topic, which was bicarbonate of soda, which I bought for the first time today. I had to search for the ‘Baking’ section of Sainsbury’s to find it and, as many of you will know, this is not a section I visit frequently – in fact, this was another first!

Before I get to the ‘serious situation’, however, I just need to ask if this is ‘Males Talking to Each Other in VERY Loud Voices’ Day? Having been in two pubs this evening with a sibling, in both we have come across large groups of males (or, even, groups of large males) speaking to each other in extremely loud voices, talking across each other as if they were appearing on Question Time, but with no David Dimbleby to calm them down or point to a member of the audience – ‘Yes, you, the lady in the pink spectacles. Yes, you. Oh, sorry, the MAN in pink spectacles’ – to ask for an opinion which is usually totally incomprehensible because the selected audience member turns into a ‘rabbit in the headlights’ and forgets all the arguments they had carefully marshalled before being asked to speak. Everyone else then boos or claps, depending on how much they’ve drunk, and the Daily Mail representative on the panel looks either very ANNOYED or very SMUG, depending on how much they’ve drunk. Piers Morgan, if he’s on the panel, just manages to look smug AND drunk.

But I digress … I now move onto the ‘serious situation’. I am typing this VERY QUIETLY because I think a PSYCHOPATH has walked into the pub and ordered a pint of Carling (that’s one clue for a start). You may remember that, a couple of years ago, I wrote an article about recognising an AXE MURDERER, although I found no correlation between this and the fact that I was reading a book about an axe murderer at the time, and I find the same lack of coincidence between the book I am currently reading (about a psychopath) and the man who has just walked into the bar… He looks ordinary, but I have finely tuned senses (often heightened by alcohol) for spotting these types. He looks mild-mannered, but the denim Jeremy Corbyn-type cloth cap and denim jacket are the real giveaway. WHO would wear double denim unless they were a psychopath, especially in a heatwave? AND he whispered when he ordered his Carling (although that could just be embarrassment) – psychopaths ALWAYS whisper. I shall make sure that he leaves the pub before me (not difficult) and I will send the aforementioned sibling ahead of me to ensure that he becomes the psychopath’s victim rather than me.
Enjoy the rest of your evening. And sleep well!

Yet Another Career Calls

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! This evening I wish to offer advice on new careers for the older woman, but advice which will also be relevant for the younger woman, since it can be stored away for future reference. My numerous forms of employment have included shop assistant, tour guide, travel agent, teacher, quiz setter, proofreader, as well as packer of plastic toy Jumbo Jets into cardboard boxes and packer of Rizla cigarette papers into smaller cardboard boxes. And now, a new career beckons … actor!

How has this happened, I hear you ask! Quite by accident, you will hear me reply!
Next-sibling-down and I replied to an advert by the University of Derby asking for volunteers to read parts in plays written by students on the MA in Writing for Performance course. (Actually, they used the word ‘actors’, but I loosely interpreted this as ‘volunteer’.) We were duly accepted and were sent our scripts – no need to learn any lines since the whole exercise would consist simply of reading the allocated parts for other students to evaluate and comment on the plays themselves. Easy peasy! After a little confusion, I eventually got the right script – a play for just two characters: a mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her alcoholic daughter whose husband has recently been killed in a car crash shortly after their marriage. A cheerful little tale, you will agree. Next-sibling-down was given parts in two plays (he always has to go one better!), one of which included a woman who cuts someone’s tongue out – I’m not sure that the younger generation is growing up entirely happily and I blame it mainly on the Daily Mail.

Anyway, my reading took place this afternoon and seemed to go well – the woman who played my daughter (ha! I bet you thought I’d been cast as the alcoholic!) really threw herself into the part and almost burst into tears when I told her I was dying. I hope it was because of the emotion I put into it (‘I’m dying’) and not because of the emotion I didn’t (there’s not really much you can put into two words, even if they are ‘I’m dying’).

I think she’d done some ‘proper’ acting before, but so have I, although playing the part of the Fat Fairy in a village pantomime may not have offered quite the same depth and range of required emotion. My theme tune was ‘Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty’, which is quite a moving song when sung with the right level of poignancy and feeling.

After the reading, a thirty-something man came and sat next to me and introduced himself as what I first thought was Darty, but it turns out was Dhaithi, pronounced Dahee, an Irish name – I’m pleased to say he had similar problems with Rhian, so he referred to me instead as Muriel, my character’s name (Muriel!!). He asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for a film that some of his students would be making in the autumn, a story of an older woman (typecast already!) who meets an older man and they form a relationship – if I get the part, I shall make it clear that I will not countenance any nudity.
So, in future, when you hear older actresses complaining that there are no parts written for older women, just point them in the direction of the University of Derby.
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, eat your hearts out!
Sleep well, dearest devotees!

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